By Jose Medina
PHILADELPHIA – The US criminal justice system has recently been put into question with various movements calling for its complete renovation.
At a time when the nation demands sweeping criminal justice reforms, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has joined a network of researchers and prosecutors whose goals are to promote the advancement of transparency and accountability of prosecutorial practices.
Prosecutorial Performance Indicators (PPIs) are new measures of performance in the field of prosecution.
These measures are designed to assess prosecutorial performance by prioritizing safety, community well-being, justice, and fairness. Seven of these new measures assess racial disparities at case filing, pretrial detention, diversion, and sentencing.
The implementation of these PPIs align with Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s commitment to increasing transparency and accountability for the criminal legal system. District Attorney Krasner recalls “when I was elected in 2017, voters demanded sweeping reforms to the justice system.”
Indicating that one of his priorities as District Attorney is criminal justice reforms, District Attorney Krasner states “three years later, our commitment to evidence-based policy informed by data and to transparency remains strong.” The implementation of these PPIs progresses his efforts in reforming the justice system.
The District Attorney indicated that these PPIs are important first steps towards reforming the criminal justice system. He points out that “you can’t fix what you don’t measure. This is a step toward measuring our prosecutors’ performance to fix what’s broken and make it better.”
District Attorney Krasner recognizes the PPIs as an important tool in creating a more “just” criminal justice system. He notes that “today marks another milestone toward our shared vision for a justice system that treats people with dignity and equity.”
Oren Gur, PhD, the Director of Research in the District Attorney’s Transparency Analytics (DATA) lab, posits the importance of addressing prosecution as a complex process by stating “rather than prosecution being flat or only having a handful of measures, the PPIs help us see prosecution as dynamic and multi-layered.”
Despite the daunting task of expanding the traditional measurements of prosecutorial performance, Assistant District Attorney Michael Hollander iterates that “the DATA Lab is eager to work closely with our colleagues, community, and research partners to better understand racial and ethnic disparities [in the Philadelphia criminal legal system].”
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s enthusiasm for making bold efforts in reforming the justice system is shared by the researchers in the network as well.
Besiki Kutateladze, a criminology professor at Florida International University and lead researcher of the PPI team, states that “as more and more prosecutors are seeking guidance about how to use data to bring about a new vision for justice, it is time for researchers and prosecutors to work together in close partnerships.”
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